Creditors and Medical Bills: How Do You Get Blood Out A Turnip?

You would think that it’s not enough that you are going through the worst life changing event you can imagine, but now you have all the financial issues to deal with too.

You try calling the mortgage company, credit card, car loans and they are very sorry.  Some give extensions, some cut the interest rates temporarily, but in the end they all want their money.  Refinancing is not an option, because you now have one income, or none.  You think that since you have never missed a payment and you have great credit that should mean something.  But, all that means nothing once you’ve missed one, two, or three payments.

So first you start using your savings.  You have always heard that you need to keep enough in savings for six months maybe a year to cover unexpected expenses.  You may have a 401K, retirement or pension savings, but who would think that you may not live long enough to enjoy it.

The first mistake, was not calling your financial advisor or tax preparer for help. What can you liquidate without paying penalties, or more taxes?  Your savings slowly dwindles as you try to stay on top of your bills, but now the medical bills start rolling in too.  Since you are just trying to deal with getting better, chemotherapy, radiation, or treatment of some kind, for the first time in your life someone else has to help.  Again, you are not in control of what’s happening and you can’t do anything about it.

The second mistake, not making sure the insurance coverage is correct for all the doctors and procedures that should be covered.  Yes, you are in a hospital covered by your insurance, but are all the doctors, lab, etc. covered?  You would be surprised how many aren’t just because they haven’t filled out some paperwork required by your insurance company.  So, if they are not in your network you may not get the same coverage or payment.  The insurance may only pay 50% instead of 85% so guess what you pay?  More!  Again, your savings is dwindling away.  Just matching your explanation-of-benefits form from the insurance company to the bill you receive from the medical provider can tell you a lot.  Call the medical provider and tell them that if they want full payment then they need to get in compliance with your insurance.  Never assume anything, you know what assume means.

The third mistake, is not calling the medical providers and hospitals for payment plans or adjustments.  Many will work with you on outstanding balances based on your income.  You feel like they helped you, then you need to pay them, will they keep helping you if you don’t?  Yes they will.  Many hospitals have funding for people with these types of illnesses.  There is a lot of assistance out there, you just have to be persistent and call, call, call.

Creditors will also take settlements.  There is credit counseling available.  Don’t give up!  Eventually, someone will listen.  Just keep telling them your story.  You may be surprised at the number of people you will touch.

Reality is that you may never be able to pay everyone.  Working out something reasonable will not only help your stress level but your health too.  That is what’s most important now

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